Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday during his interaction with chief ministers that some people were engaging in politics on the coronavirus vaccine, people familiar with the development said.
A person present in the meeting quoted Modi as having said that some people were doing politics over the corona vaccine and nothing could stop them.
“It was just a passing remark as the general mood of the meeting was cooperation and not confrontation,” the person added.
But the remarks were widely interpreted as an indirect reference to former Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s tweet on Monday in which he posed a series of questions to the Prime Minister on the preparedness of distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine as and when it becomes available in India.
Gandhi asked: “The PM must tell the nation: 1. Of all the Covid vaccine candidates, which will GOI (Government of India) choose & why? 2. Who will get the vaccine first & what will be the distribution strategy? 3. Will PMCares fund be used to ensure free vaccination? 4. By when will all Indians be vaccinated?” .
Gandhi’s questions came ahead of the Prime Minister’s virtual meeting with chief ministers of states where the Covid-19 pandemic situation has deteriorated in the past several weeks.
Among those who attended the review meeting were the chief ministers of Delhi (Arvind Kejriwal), Haryana (Manohar Lal Khattar) Rajasthan (Ashok Gehlot), West Bengal (Mamata Banerjee), Maharashtra (Uddhav Thackeray), Chhattisgarh (Bhupesh Baghel) and Gujarat (Vijay Rupani). Home minister Amit Shah and union health minister Harsh Vardhan were also present.
The modalities of Covid-19 vaccine delivery, distribution and administration were also discussed during the meeting.
The coronavirus vaccine became the talking point in the Bihar elections after the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) in its manifesto promised free distribution of vaccine against the Covid-19 once approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research.
The announcement triggered strong reactions from the Congress and other rival parties, which accused the BJP of playing politics over the Covid-19 pandemic and insisted that the vaccine belonged to all Indians and not to the ruling party.